I stand here today as one of eight candidates applying for a job. That means that the other 300-some members of Parliament constitute the hiring committee in this process. In my view, today they bear a significant responsibility to themselves, to one another, and to all Canadians to carefully consider each of the candidates before deciding which one they think would make the best Speaker of this House of Commons.
This is about more than party politics, more than helping a friend, and more than who asked them first. Today, the members will decide as a group who will be offered a four-year non-revocable contract to manage this place and to help steer the ship of Canadian democracy.
In a few minutes, we might hear my colleague, the hon. member for London West, say that experience in business is a big asset for managing the day-to-day operations of this place. I agree with that, which is why my experience as a successful businessman in real estate and running a communications company before I entered politics should be important to members. I know the importance of managing a budget and looking after customers.
I also expect that in a few minutes we might hear my colleague from Calgary Centre suggest that a broad range of life experience is necessary for our Speaker to serve as an ambassador for Canada on a global stage. I could not agree more. As we know, our Speaker stands fifth in the order of precedence and has many ceremonial and diplomatic responsibilities. That is why I place great value in my academic and international background.
I have a bachelor's degree from Carleton University and a master's degree from the State University of New York. I have also lived for a year or more in Europe, the United States and Asia. Collectively, these experiences will be a great asset if I have the opportunity to serve as the Speaker in Canada and abroad.
I expect that in a few moments, my hon. colleague from Victoria will argue that the Speaker of the House should speak both official languages. She is quite right. I believe that bilingual candidates have a clear advantage. I feel it is a matter of respect for all members of the House.
Six years ago, I could not put together a single sentence in French. Today I consider myself bilingual, perhaps not perfectly bilingual, but I can communicate in French most of the time. However, if a complicated issue or a point of order is raised, I must rely on our interpreters, because making a fair decision is paramount.
After that, I think my hon. colleague from Regina—Qu'Appelle will tell you that one must have experience in the House and in the chair in order to step into the position. I would have to agree. In the vast majority of professions, one must go through a period of training in order to master all aspects of the job. I think the same holds true here. That is why I believe that the candidate from Regina—Qu'Appelle, the candidate from Victoria and I have an advantage in this contest.
Later, I expect one thing we will hear from the member for Simcoe North is that having the right temperament is key, that having an approachable and fair-minded facilitator, someone with a calm and contemplative nature, is critically important to have in the chair.
Once again, I agree with my colleague. I believe I have the temperament well-suited to this position. I listen carefully, consider all points of view, and seek consensus when resolving delicate situations.
Finally, I expect that the candidate from Brandon—Souris across the aisle will highlight his experience managing multi-million dollar budgets as a provincial cabinet minister.
I also agree with my colleague that experience managing large public sector budgets is invaluable training to serve as Speaker of the House. While never having been a provincial cabinet minister, I have served as chief of staff for two in Ontario and played a major role managing a budget of tens of millions of dollars.
I have also served as the director of research for a national political party where I hired and managed a staff of more than 30 persons.
As I reflect back on all the positive things I have said about my fellow candidates, it seems to me that we might be able to construct the perfect Speaker if we could take the best from each of them. Alas, that is not possible. The perfect candidate is not available.
The reality is that 300 members must decide which of the eight candidates they believe would be best able to serve in this role. If it is felt that on balance I am the strongest candidate in this group, then I ask for the support of the members. If I am elected as Speaker, I will work hard every day to warrant that trust and to serve members to the best of my ability.